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PFT's Week Two picks

[Editor’s note:  Each week, Rosenthal and I will go head to head,
picking the winner of each game.  The guy who does worse each week gets
to be the one to copy and paste together the text the next week.  Last week, we tied.  The NBC Competition Committee decided that I should have to copy and paste it all together again.  And so I’ll take the high road and accept the ruling.  In three days, after everyone applauds me for taking the high road, I’ll bitch about it on the radio.]

[UPDATE:  As it turns out, we didn’t tie.  Rosenthal won.  And I should have kept my damn mouth shut when I realized that he’d counted his victories incorrectly.]

Bills at Packers

Florio’s take:  In Week Two of the 2009 season, the Packers hosted an AFC team, and the AFC team stole a win.  In Win Two of the 2010 season, another AFC team comes to town.  But there’s a big difference between last year’s Bengals and this year’s Bills.  Even with Packers running back Ryan Grant done for the year, Green Bay has too much talent — and the Bills don’t have nearly enough.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 42, Bills 19.

Rosenthal’s take: This reminds me of the blowout specials Florio used to get to pick last year when we split the workload.  You could try to make a case for the Bills, but you’d be trying too hard.  Buffalo doesn’t have the receiver depth to test Green Bay’s secondary.  The Bills’ three-headed running game was oddly underused last week.  Their screens were predictable.  Holes closed on C.J. Spiller a lot faster than they did at Clemson or in the preseason.  Don’t expect daylight this week. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Packers 27, Bills 10.

Dolphins at Vikings

Florio’s take:  The Vikings’ offense and the Dolphins’ defense cancel each other out.  So this one will come down to the ability of the Minnesota defense to bottle up the Miami offense.  Given that the Bills were able to keep the attack largely in check last week, the Vikings should have no problems shutting them down.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 24, Dolphins 12.

Rosenthal’s take: Miami’s defense was impressive in Buffalo.  Mike Nolan did a lot of fun things with Karlos Dansby and Cameron Wake; they can get pressure on Brett Favre. Even short a few players, this is an improved linebacker group.  Favre also may not be ready to take advantage of a Dolphins secondary that features Benny Sappy a little too prominently.  There’s an old axiom that you shouldn’t pick a team to cover the spread unless you think they can win. 5.5 points feels like too much.  So let’s just go all the way and take the Dolphins in an upset special.  (I changed this pick at the last minute, which is the kiss of death.)  [Editor’s note:  Hey, Rosey, if you’re gonna pick the upset, just pick the upset and be done with it.]

Rosenthal’s pick: Dolphins 23, Vikings 21.

Chiefs at Browns

Florio’s take:  With former Patriot Scott Pioli running the Chiefs and former Patriot turncoat Eric Mangini coaching the Browns, this one carries a strong undercurrent of hostility.  Then there’s the fact that Browns running back Jerome Harrison shredded the K.C. defense for 286 yards last December.  Look for the new-look Chiefs to bring their new attitude to Ohio, and to send the Browns to a loss in the second of two games that most expected Cleveland to win.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 20, Browns 13.

Rosenthal’s take: Remember all the positive energy in Kansas City on Monday night?  Imagine that, but the complete opposite happening in Cleveland if the Browns fall behind Sunday.  Jake Delhomme’s injury doesn’t hurt the Browns, though.  Seneca Wallace is different, and could force the Browns coaches to get creative with a roster that begs for creativity to make up for a lack of talent.  Eric Mangini can’t afford to lose the Belichick B-team Bowl after last week’s collapse in Tampa.  Romeo Crennel knows just how to lose in Cleveland.

Rosenthal’s pick: Browns 17, Chiefs 14.

Bears at Cowboys

Florio’s take:  The Bears lucked into a win at home and the Cowboys squandered a victory of their own on the road.  This week, the Cowboys head back to Dallas, 25 years after the Bears authored a 44-0 beatdown of the ‘Boys.  The Bears haven’t won in Big D since the year after that game — and their streak of futility will continue.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 24, Bears 10.

Rosenthal’s take: No clue what to make of the Bears after last week.   Jay Cutler moved the ball very well, Matt Forte is revived, and the defense stuffed Detroit all day.  Yet they still needed a lucky call to save them from an opening loss at home.  The Cowboys are easier to read.  Their offensive line has problems and they know it.  The defense is great.  Will the return of two injured, older starting lineman be enough to turn things around?  It’s enough this week.

Rosenthal’s pick: Cowboys 24, Bears 20.

Cardinals at Falcons

Florio’s take:  The Cards barely beat a still-bad Rams team last week, and the Falcons gave fits to the Steelers on their home field.  Atlanta realizes that the window will close quickly if they can’t keep pace with the Saints.  Besides, Falcons are far more menacing birds.

Florio’s pick:  Falcons 28, Cardinals 20.

Rosenthal’s take: Arizona fans complaining about style points last week need to get a grip.  Kurt Warner has left the building.  This is a different Cardinals team, and they are going to have to win creatively while Derek Anderson figures things out. The guy led two impressive fourth-quarter drives last week and that will do for now.  Matt Ryan, on the other hand, has struggled to move the ball since the preseason.  I think Atlanta’s improved defense carries the day here.  Both these teams deserve to be 1-1. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Falcons 19, Cardinals 14. 

Buccaneers at Panthers

Florio’s take:  Since 2003, the Panthers have handled the Bucs on 11 of 14 occasions.  Though Tampa pulled off a minor surprise on Sunday against the Browns, the Panthers can be expected to take care of business on their own turf.  If they can’t, Carolina could be 0-5 at the bye.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 24, Buccaneers 14.

Rosenthal’s take: The Bucs have a golden opportunity to go 2-0, even if Panthers starting quarterback Matt Moore plays as expected despite a concussion last week.  Raheem Morris has the Bucs defense looking improved, like they did at the end of last year.  These two similar teams fly well below the NFL radar and got against current league norms.  They want to win with running, defense, and not screwing things up too badly passing the ball.  John Fox has more practice.  And better running backs. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Panthers 20, Bucs 13.

Eagles at Lions

Florio’s take:  With Mike Vick making his first start since 2006, the question becomes whether he can play like he did against the Packers, who weren’t prepared to face him, when facing a Lions team that knows Vick will be the guy.  Lions coach Jim Schwartz never has had to defend Vick; when Schwartz served as defensive coordinator for the Titans, Schwartz’s team was the last one to play the Falcons before Vick returned from a broken leg.  Look for Schwartz to try to keep Vick in the pocket in the hopes that he’ll be forced to throw — and that he’ll force a few mistakes.  And then Kevin Kolb will get “healthy” quickly.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 20, Eagles 13.

Rosenthal’s take: The battle of the tortured fan bases.  The rest of the world learned about what it meant to be a Lions fan this week.  Week One, full of hope, they lost their young franchise quarterback and a game in the most painful way possible.  The Lions have a vertical passing attack with the weakest-armed quarterback in the league in Shaun Hill.  Eagles fans have it pretty good, but they like drama.  They talked up Kevin Kolb all offseason, then gave up on him after 30 minutes.  It’s hard to blame them after the way Michael Vick played last week.  Vick will put it to the Lions just to make this whole situation more ridiculous.

Rosenthal’s pick: Eagles 27, Lions 16.

Ravens at Bengals

Florio’s take:  The Bengals somehow swept the Ravens last year.  It won’t be happening again in 2010.  Baltimore looks as good as they ever have looked, and the Bengals looked nothing like they looked a year ago.  Look for Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis to continue to drop the hammer on anyone who looks in his direction.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 23, Bengals 9.

Rosenthal’s take: The Bengals defense said they were confused early against the Patriots.  So were guys like Tedy Bruschi that picked Cincinnati to go to the Super Bowl.  At least the Bengals passing attack showed signs of life after the early disaster.  It may have been garbage time, but Carson Palmer couldn’t put up big stats any time last year.  Unlike the Jets, Cincinnati has the weapons to take advantage of Baltimore’s secondary.

Rosenthal’s pick: Bengals 27, Ravens 23.

Steelers at Titans

Florio’s take:  Last year, these two teams kicked off a season that many assumed would end in a playoff rematch.  Neither qualified for the postseason.  This year, both look like they’re on their way to another trip to January.  It all comes down to the Steelers defense against the Titans offense, and the Steelers defense is simply too tough.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 13, Titans 9.

Rosenthal’s take: The Titans were my pick to win the AFC South in the PFT Season Preview, so I’m basically going to take them at home unless they are facing the ’85 Bears.  The Steelers defense isn’t at that level, but it could wind up being the best in 2010.  Pittsburgh can neutralize Chris Johnson — they held him to 57 yards in last year’s opener.  So it will come down Vince Young versus Dennis Dixon and Young should be up for the challenge. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Titans 14, Steelers 10.

Seahawks at Broncos

Florio’s take:  Former Broncos quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, who was essentially run off when Josh McDaniels became the head coach, returns to town with a team that unexpectedly won in Week One by 25 points.  But it’s one thing to put a pasting on the 49ers at home in the season opener, it’s quite another to do it in Denver.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 24, Seahawks 17.

Rosenthal’s take: These teams that are a total mystery, especially the Seahawks.  Can Seattle play so inspired without the 12th man?  What is this team good at precisely?  It looks like Pete Carroll is going to make this defense better and more interesting.  The offense has work to do.  In Denver, I know what I’m getting from Kyle Orton and his band of merry secondary receivers.  The Broncos can beat suspect NFC West teams at home.

Rosenthal’s pick: Broncos 28, Seahawks 21.

Rams at Raiders

Florio’s take:  The Rams looked better than expected in Week One; the Raiders looked far worse.  But Oakland is at home and the Rams are still learning how to win.  Though neither team will be embarrassed, look for the Raiders to take care of business in the Black Hole.

Florio’s pick: Raiders 17, Rams 10.

Rosenthal’s take: The optimism stops here for one of these teams. The Raiders wouldn’t be able to sell progress after a blowout loss on the road and a home loss to the Rams.  Sam Bradford has given the Rams hope for the future, but the present looks awfully bleak if they go 0-2 with a soft opening schedule.  Two Raiders, including Jason Campbell, alluded to being overconfident heading into the Titans game.  You know, because of their draft grades.  Losing 11 or more games for seven years hasn’t humbled this franchise.  Maybe losing to the Rams will. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Rams 21, Raiders 17.

Texans at Redskins

Florio’s take:  The reunion of the Shanahans and Gary Kubiak adds intrigue to a game that suddenly has become one of the best of the weekend give the teams’ performances in Week One.  We’ll quickly find out whether Houston tailback Arian Foster rolled up all those yards because he played against a bad run defense or because the Texans have become the ultimate “pick your poison” pass/run attack.  And we’ll find out whether the Redskins’ offense can score a touchdown or two without having it handed to them.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 27, Redskins 24.

Rosenthal’s take: Matt Schaub and Gary Kubiak are road favorites coming off a huge win. This is exactly the game they usually trip over, which worries me. Also worrisome:  Every aspect of the Redskins offense except their tackle play.  (How odd is that?)  Washington just doesn’t have enough firepower to hang with Houston, who should give Arian Foster a break and only rush him 25 times this week. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Texans 24, Redskins 17.

Patriots at Jets

Florio’s take:  During an offseason of incessant Jets chirping, the Patriots have remained largely silent.  Apart from Tom Brady’s acknowledgement that he hates the Jets, the Pats have avoided the trash talk.  Instead, the Patriots have saved it for the field, and the Jets may have a hard time saving themselves as the Pats make the only kind of statement that truly matters in football.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 35, Jets 13.

Rosenthal’s take: What goes up in the NFL usually comes down. And vice versa.  An overconfident team loses one week, gets ripped, and plays hungry the next time out.  Last year, Rex Ryan called the Jets’ Week Two game against the Patriots the team’s Super Bowl.  This one is far more important.  The Jets know they can’t go 0-2 at home to start the year. The Jets defense still looks great. The offense can find a way on the ground.  Don’t crown the Patriots yet; this will be a season-long battle.



Rosenthal’s pick: Jets 20, Patriots 16.

Jaguars at Chargers

Florio’s take:  Most expected one of these teams to be 1-0 and the other to be 0-1; few expected that the Jaguars would be undefeated and that the Chargers would be winless.  Though it may feel like a home game for the Jaguars since the stadium will be partially empty (rim shot!), the Chargers have the horses to get back to 1-1 against a Jaguars team that overachieved against the Broncos.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 30, Jaguars 21.

Rosenthal’s take: The Chargers talked all offseason about avoiding yet another slow start to the year, and then slogged through a loss in the Kansas City rain.  Weather should be more conducive to vertical passing in San Diego this week. I don’t trust either secondary or either pass rush, even if Aaron Kampman looks like a fine pickup.  I’ll take Philip Rivers in a shootout over David Garrard every time.

Rosenthal’s pick: Chargers 34, Jaguars 26.
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Giants at Colts

Florio’s take:  Peyton Manning has started 0-1 only three times in his 13-year career.  Only once, as a rookie in 1998, has Peyton Manning begun a season at 0-2.  This time around, Peyton takes an 0-1 mark into his second career game against his kid brother.  And more importantly than not going 0-2 to Peyton will be avoiding losing to Eli.  Sometimes, it really is that simple.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 31, Giants 19.

Rosenthal’s take: Both brothers have grown up a lot since the last Manning Bowl.  Peyton won a Super Bowl and did the United Way spot on Saturday Night Live.  Eli won a Super Bowl, got significantly better after the title, and adjusted his Southern fraternity mop top.  That makes this a fair fight, especially if the Giants pass rush has truly reawakened.  Fair, but not equal.  Peyton is still the one with MVPs and Peyton doesn’t start the year 0-2.

Rosenthal’s pick: Colts 34, Giants 30.

Saints at 49ers

Florio’s take:  Rarely if ever has a team with high expectations imploded as quickly as the 49ers.  They open their home schedule with a visit from the Saints, who will have had the longest possible non-bye-week time to prepare for the game, playing on a Thursday and next on the following Monday, 11 days later.  After the game, Niners coach Mike Singletary will be thanking Sean Payton in the same way Singletary thanked Pete Carroll.  

Florio’s pick:  Saints 30, 49ers 13.

Rosenthal’s take: Weirdly dangerous game for the Saints against an ornery 49ers team.  New Orleans fans don’t like that I questioned their run defense this week, but one game doesn’t erase all of last season and a shaky linebacker group.  Luckily, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams doesn’t have to get too creative to stop Alex Smith and the 49ers passing attack.  Load up the box, and dare Smith to beat you.  The Saints are in Payton/Brees version 5.0.  The essentially can do anything they choose with a veteran group of receivers.  The 49ers can’t get the play calls in on time.

Rosenthal’s pick: Saints 27, 49ers 21.

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Joe Mixon visits PFT Live on Monday

NORMAN, OK - NOVEMBER 12:   Running back Joe Mixon #25 of the Oklahoma Sooners warms up before the game against the Baylor Bears November 12, 2016 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated Baylor 45-24. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL won’t let Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon visiting the Scouting Combine. As Scouting Combine week begins, he’ll be visiting PFT Live instead.

The man who was captured on video with a vicious knockout punch to a young woman in 2014 is one of the most controversial draft prospects in recent years. Some say he would be a second-round or maybe even a first-round prospect if his off-field record were clean. Now, it’s far less clear — in part because plenty of teams won’t consider drafting him in any round.

If he is drafted, the team that takes him needs to be prepared for a backlash that could potentially force the team to renounce its rights to Mixon.

Regardless of whether and when he’s drafted, Mixon should be in Indianapolis this week, going from room to room and being grilled in 15-minute increments about the incident and whether he has shown true remorse or whether he’s simply saying what he thinks teams want to hear. I plan to ask him some of the same questions he’d face if he were in Indianapolis, based on information obtained from multiple teams about the questions they would be asking, if Mixon were there.

He’ll be calling the show at 8:35 a.m. ET. Before that, we’ll talk to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as we take a look at the offseason priorities for the teams of the AFC North. The show begins at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio, with the NBCSN simulcast commencing at 7:00 a.m. ET.

Listen at Sirius 213, XM 202, NBCSportsRadio.com, the NBC Sports Radio app, and on any of the many terrestrial stations that carry the show.

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Eric Berry: “Not getting my hopes up” about long-term deal

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 13:  Eric Berry #29 of the Kansas City Chiefs reacts after a play against the Carolina Panthers in the 1st quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 13, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

The deadline for teams to use the franchise tag comes this Wednesday and one player who would like to see the day pass without the tag being used is Chiefs safety Eric Berry.

Berry played out the 2016 season under the terms of the tag and is a candidate to get it again unless he and the team can agree to a deal before the March 1 deadline. There have been talks and Berry said Sunday, via Adam Teicher of ESPN.com, that his choice would be to sign a multi-year contract in the next few days, but he didn’t sound terribly optimistic that they’ll strike a deal.

“I’m just being patient because you never know…I’m not getting my hopes up,” Berry said.

Tagging Berry would set his salary at around $13 million, although he reiterated that his vow not to play out another year on the tag. A second tag for the safety would also leave them a little less than a week to talk about a contract with defensive tackle Dontari Poe before other teams can open up dialogue with the impending free agent as well.

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Derrick Brooks to Jameis Winston: “That’s the fishbowl you live in”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers  linebacker Derrick Brooks warmsup against the Buffalo Bills September 18, 2005 in Tampa.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) Getty Images

Much was said this week about the boys-are-strong-girls-are-silent comments from Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston. Hall of Fame Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks had a few things to say directly to Winston, primarily to help him avoid similar problems in the future.

That’s the fishbowl you live in,” Brooks told Jameis, according to a Sunday interview with Brooks on 102.5 FM in Tampa, via JoeBucsFan.com.

Instead of criticizing Winston or criticizing the media for criticizing Winston, Brooks focused on looking ahead. He told Winston that he shouldn’t “go into a turtle shell,” and that he should consider techniques other than long speeches when speaking to kids.

On one hand, Winston could be doing far worse things than trying to inspire and guide youth; he should be praised for that effort and encouraged to continue it. On the other hand, his seat-of-the-pants attempt to deal with one boy who didn’t seem to be enthused by Winston’s speech resulted in comments that revealed a laughably outdated mindset regarding gender-based stereotypes that mainstream society ditched in the 1960s.

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Panthers keep Mario Addison with new three-year deal

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) works in the backfield as Carolina Panthers defensive end Mario Addison (97) defends during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt) AP

The Panthers have signed defensive end Mario Addison to a new contract, keeping the pass rusher in their rotation and off of the free agent market.

Addison, 29, had a career high 9.5 sacks last season. He has 21 of his 25.5 career sacks over the last three seasons with the Panthers.

Per NFL Network, the new deal is for three years and a total of $22.5 million.

Addison would have been a free agent at the start of the new league year on March 9 had he not signed the new contract. He’s been with the Panthers since 2012 after being signed off of Washington’s practice squad. He’s been mostly used as a pass-rush specialist and has only started one game in the last three seasons.

A former undrafted free agent, Addison broke into the league with the Bears and spent time with the Colts before signing with Washington’s practice squad and first landing with Carolina in Dec. 2012. The Panthers also signed him a two-year extension prior to the 2014 season.

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Team-by-team look at potential tag candidates

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 29: Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins looks on in the third quarter of a preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on August 29, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Matt Hazlett/ Getty Images) Getty Images

With only a few days left and no tags applied, it’s time to take a look at where the franchise and transition tags could land between now and Wednesday, March 1.

So let’s take our annual team-by-team look at the tag candidates. Better never than late.

Dolphins: No tags are likely in Miami. Receiver Kenny Stills will likely get No. 1 money elsewhere, and the Dolphins can’t justify tagging him with Jarvis Landry on the roster and now eligible for a second contract.

Bills: Cornerback Stephon Gilmore wants big money on a long-term deal. He’ll get a chance to get it elsewhere; the franchise tag is unlikely for the man who has finished a five-year rookie contract in Buffalo.

Jets: A season after tagging Muhammad Wilkerson, they’ve got no impending free agents worthy of the tag this year.

Patriots: Linebacker Dont’a Hightower has surmised that the trade of Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins makes it more likely that Hightower remains in the long-term plans. Absent a long-term deal before March 9, only the franchise tag will ensure another year with the guy who made one of the key plays in Super Bowl LI. For now, whether it’s used remains up in the air.

Steelers: Running back Le’Veon Bell is the prime candidate, but the expected investment of $12 million could be too much for the Steelers. The transition tag is a possibility as well, if no other team would be willing to offer huge money for a guy with a history of injuries and suspensions.

Bengals: Tackle Andrew Whitworth and guard Kevin Zeitler are the two top candidates. Because all offensive lineman are lumped into the same bucket for the franchise tag, however, guards and centers rarely if ever get tagged. Given Whitworth’s age and the team’s frugality, a tag for him isn’t likely, either.

Browns: Has receiver Terrelle Pryor done enough to merit the tag? It would be an amazing development if it happens, but the Browns need to find a way to retain a player who has yet to reach his ceiling at his new position — and who has the kind of zeal and passion for his team and his city that more Browns players need.

Ravens: Defensive tackle Brandon Williams is the team’s top candidate, but the Ravens haven’t been bashful about letting big-money players go and reloading from below. If they believe in Michael Pierce, the Ravens could be willing to let Williams walk — and to reel in a third-round compensatory draft pick in 2018 in return for him.

Texans: They seem to be willing to let cornerback A.J. Bouye hit the market and walk away.

Colts: To use the franchise tag, it’s important to have quality players beyond a franchise quarterback.

Titans: The biggest name to hit free agency belongs to guard Chance Warmack. Since guards get lumped in with tackles, it will be too expensive to tag a guy who didn’t do enough to prompt the Titans to pick up the fifth-year option.

Jaguars: One of the benefits of having a roster with talent that skews young is that none of the impending free agents cry out “tag me.”

Broncos: A year after a protracted and at times nasty fight with linebacker Von Miller, the Broncos have no tag-worthy free agents.

Chiefs: They’ll have to decide between $12.96 million for safety Eric Berry or roughly the same for defensive tackle Dontari Poe, if neither signs a long-term deal by Wednesday. Berry has said he won’t play under the franchise tag, even though his one-year haul would exceed the top of the market at the safety position.

Chargers: Quarterbacks and men who hit quarterbacks are the two most valuable types of player in today’s NFL. With Joey Bosa on one side and Melvin Ingram on the other, the Chargers need to keep both around. With Bosa in the second-year of a wage-scale contract, they can afford to tag Ingram.

Raiders: They reportedly expect running back Latavius Murray to leave. Which means they don’t expect to tag him. Which makes sense, since few running backs are worth $12 million or more for one year.

Cowboys: The Cowboys have a few free agents (like cornerback Morris Claiborne) but none that deserve to be tagged.

Washington: Quarterback Kirk Cousins will, by all indications, be tagged. Even though it will cost the team $23.94 million for 2017. On top of the $19.95 million paid last year.

Giants: Two years ago, they tagged Jason Pierre-Paul. And then he had a serious fireworks injury. Last year, he signed a team-friendly one-year deal. This year, they may be tagging him again. They should, given the way he performed in 2016.

Eagles: The Eagles have plenty of needs to address, and their cap space won’t be strapped by tagging one of their looming free agents.

Vikings: Their best free agents (Matt Kalil, Cordarrelle Patterson) aren’t good enough to justify the tag.

Packers: Not long ago, it appeared running back Eddie Lacy wouldn’t be tagged in 2017 because he’d have a long-term deal. He won’t be tagged for very different reasons.

Lions: Next year, Matthew Stafford (absent a new deal). This year, no one.

Bears: It doesn’t make sense to devote more than $17 million to receiver Alshon Jeffery, who has now had two consecutive subpar contract years. However, if coach John Fox and G.M. Ryan Pace are truly on the hot seat, it could be money well spent if it saves their jobs.

Panthers: Defensive tackle Kawann Short likely will be tagged. The only open question is whether, and when, he’ll sign it. And, if he doesn’t, whether the team will yank it.

Buccaneers: The best news for a team on the rise is that none of the free agents merit a tag

Falcons: The best news for a team in its prime is that none of the free agents merit a tag.

Saints: The best news for a team still stuck in neutral is that none of the free agents merit a tag.

Seahawks:  The best news for a team potentially on the decline is that none of the free agents merit a tag.

49ers: The best news for a team with nowhere to go but up . . . you get the idea.

Cardinals: Owner Michael Bidwill has said that defensive end Chandler Jones will be franchise-tagged absent a new deal.

Rams: They’re considering applying the franchise tag for the second straight year to cornerback Trumaine Johnson.

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Broncos set to hire second assistant offensive line coach of offseason

Broncos practice at Dove Valley Getty Images

The Broncos hired John Benton as their assistant offensive line coach shortly after hiring Vance Joseph as their new head coach, but Benton’s tenure turned out to be a brief one.

The Broncos granted a 49ers request to interview Benton for their offensive line coach opening and Benton got the job, leaving Denver again in need of someone to work with offensive line coach Jeff Davidson. Mike Klis of KUSA reports that they’ve settled on someone for that spot.

Klis reports that Chris Strausser will leave his job as the University of Washington’s offensive line coach in order to come to Denver. Strausser worked with Washington coach Chris Petersen at Boise State, which means his arrival in Denver will allow him to reunite with one of his former players.

Broncos center Matt Paradis played for Strausser in Boise and will be back in the middle of the line for the Broncos once he’s recovered from a pair of offseason hip surgeries.

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LeSean McCoy’s “Buffalo was so special” tweet isn’t a farewell

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 13:  LeSean McCoy #25 of the Buffalo Bills carries the ball in the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 13, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bills running back LeSean McCoy created a stir on social media with a tweet that “Buffalo was so special . . . thanks for everything.” Many are saying (sad!) that this is a farewell from McCoy, which in turn means that McCoy has been cut.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, McCoy hasn’t been cut. The message relates to an appearance (specifically, an autograph signing) that occurred in Buffalo on Saturday.

McCoy has a salary of $6 million and a cap number of $8.875 million in 2017. Those numbers have sparked speculation that the next coaching staff may decide to move on from him. Cutting him would result in a cap charge of $7.875 million; that amount could be spread over two years with a post-June 1 release.

Two years ago, the Eagles decided to move on from McCoy, ostensibly because his east-west style didn’t mesh with Chip Kelly’s one-cut zone running scheme. New offensive coordinator Rick Dennison uses a system that employs one-cut zone running. (Last year, McCoy thrived once Anthony Lynn became the offensive coordinator, installing running plays that gave McCoy options to hit an inside hole or bounce outside.)

So while Sunday’s tweet isn’t a goodbye, there’s still a chance that farewell is coming. If it happens, plenty of other teams will be line up to give McCoy an enthusiastic hello.

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Report: Raiders expect Latavius Murray to sign elsewhere

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 07:  Latavius Murray #28 of the Oakland Raiders carries the ball during the second quarter of the AFC Wild Card game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on January 7, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Raiders returned to the playoffs in 2016 with the help of 12 touchdowns from running back Latavius Murray, but they reportedly aren’t planning on having him be part of the effort for a repeat trip to the postseason.

Murray is set to become a free agent next month and Josina Anderson of ESPN reports that the team expects he will sign with another team. Per Anderson, the team’s main focus on the contract front is on reaching extensions with quarterback Derek Carr and defensive end Khalil Mack as they head into their fourth seasons.

Murray picked up 1,066 yards on 266 carries in 2015 and ran 195 times for 788 yards and those 12 touchdowns last season.

Anderson reports the Raiders will leave the door open for a return after Murray sees what’s available to him on the open market. Rookie Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington had success out of the backfield in complementary roles last year and the Raiders could look to this year’s draft for a bigger back to take Murray’s place in the mix.

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NFLPA shrugs at possibility of enforcement of federal marijuana laws

BERLIN, GERMANY - AUGUST 09:  A participant smokes a marijuana joint while marching in the annual Hemp Parade (Hanfparade) on August 9, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Supporters of cannabis legalization are hoping legalized sale in parts of the USA will increase the likelihood of legalization in Germany. The city of Berlin is considering allowing the sale of cannabis in one city district.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images) Getty Images

With the Trump administration strongly hinting that federal law banning marijuana use will be enforced in states where recreational use has been legalized, the NFL Players Association sees no issue regarding its current effort to loosen the league’s current marijuana prohibition.

NFLPA spokesman George Atallah described the situation as “a CBA issue, not a law-enforcement issue” in a comment to the Denver Post.

“We are talking about how players get treatment under our jointly agreed upon drug policies, not any advocacy for federal vs. state statutes,” Atallah said.

Technically, he’s right. But the proliferation of state laws allowing marijuana use for medical or recreational reasons has created the perception that the NFL is out of touch and drifting from the mainstream on the issue. If, for example, the federal government were to remove marijuana from the list of banned substances, the NFL instantly would be under immense pressure to ditch the outdated Big Shield banishment of conduct that almost always happens away from work, often during the various months when players are left to their own devices.

If the White House stops the current legalization trend and whacks the seven states where recreational use is now legal, the NFL will remain justified to fold its arms tightly and insist on significant concessions to change the current rules. Which will make it harder for the NFLPA to nudge the league to change.

As a practical matter, no change at all is needed for the vast majority of NFL players. The smart ones who smoke marijuana know that they should stop smoking roughly a month before the opening of the annual window for the once-per-year drug test (PED testing can occur at any time) and quit until that one test happens. After that, the players can smoke at will until the following March — as long as they don’t get arrested or have a bag of weed fall out of their jackets and land on the shoes of the Commissioner.

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Marvin Lewis: Contract extension not “critical or crucial”

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 1:  Head Coach Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals watches a replay as his team takes on the Baltimore Ravens during the second quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on January 1, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) Getty Images

In late January, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said that he’d “like to agree” to a contract extension with the team because he thinks it would put “everybody’s mind at ease going forward for their futures.”

It’s now late February and the two sides haven’t agreed on a deal that would keep Lewis under contract beyond the 2017 season. Lewis still thinks a fourth extension in as many years would add a sense of security, but downplayed its importance coming off a year that saw the Bengals miss the playoffs for the first time in six years.

“I don’t think it’s critical or crucial,” Lewis said, via the team’s website. “If things work out we would look to do that. I think some people are sometimes more at ease with that. Maybe that’s not where we need to be. Maybe that’s not the right place for us to be right now … everybody is year-to-year, right?”

Going into next season with an expiring contract would certainly create a sense of urgency in Cincinnati, although one imagines that sense would exist under any circumstance as the Bengals close in on 30 years since their last postseason victory.

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After arrest, Ravens say they’re done with Matt Elam

Matt Elam AP

Technically, Matt Elam is still a Baltimore Raven. But in 11 days, he won’t be.

Elam, who was arrested on drug charges early this morning in Miami, becomes a free agent on March 9. And the Ravens issued a statement following his arrest making clear that they will not re-sign him.

“We are aware of the arrest of Matt Elam. Matt is not in our plans for the 2017 Ravens,” the statement says.

This morning’s arrest may be the reason the Ravens released that statement, but it’s far from the only reason the Ravens are finished with Elam. Their 2013 first-round draft pick, Elam has been a major disappointment. The team didn’t pick up his fifth-year option and probably wouldn’t have re-signed him at any price even if he had no off-field issues.

Elam might be able to sign on with some team if he’s willing to take a minimum-salary deal. But it’s possible that he has played his last game, thanks to problems both on the field and off.

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PFT Live heads to the Scouting Combine this week

PFTLive

Three weeks ago today, the 2016 NFL season ended. In just three days, one of the three major offseason tentpole events arrives.

It’s the Scouting Combine, and PFT Live will be broadcasting from Indianapolis on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. As usual, we’ll be on from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 ET on NBC Sports Radio, with a re-air from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET. The final two hours of the live show, from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. ET, will be simulcast on NBCSN.

Every hour of every show also becomes a podcast, which can be downloaded at iTunes or audioBoom. (Subscribe now. Subscribe now. Subscribe now.) Also, most if not all of the face-to-face interviews eventually will be posted at PFT.

The guest list is still being negotiated and finalized; the confirmed roster includes Falcons coach Dan Quinn, Panthers coach Ron Rivera, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, Rams coach Sean McVay, Broncos coach Vance Joseph, Bills coach Sean McDermott, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, Chargers coach Anthony Lynn, Broncos G.M. John Elway, Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff, Vikings G.M. Rick Spielman, Eagles G.M. Howie Roseman, and Jaguars G.M. Dave Caldwell.

That’s 14 for now, and others will be added once the arrangements are nailed down. It’s a fluid process that often has coaches and General Managers pop in; chances are that we’ll end up with between 25 and 30 by the time the dust settles.

Thanks in advance to those teams who choose to make their coaches and General Managers available for conversations with PFT Live. For those who have declined this time around, we hope to persuade you to join us at the league meetings next month in Arizona or at some other point in the future.

For those who always decline, we’ll keep on asking. Because you miss 100 percent of the shots where the puck is going to be. Or something.

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2017 49ers already have outspent 2016 49ers in free agency

JAMESTOWN, CA - APRIL 29:   "How To Find Gold" booklets on display at Gold Prospecting Adventures on April 29, 2011 in Jamestown, California. As the dollar continues to fall gold continues to rise settling at a record high $ 1,556.40 an ounce at the close of the market on Friday April 29, 2011. Gold is considered the ultimate storer of wealth bringing out more part time prospectors to strike their claims. (Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images) Getty Images

Free agency hasn’t even begun yet, but the 2017 49ers are making their mark. How much of a mark have they made? Already, more than they did in all of 2016.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com points out that the 49ers under new G.M. John Lynch already have spent more in free agency than G.M. Trent Baalke did a year ago. Just this week, the 49ers signed defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (formerly of the Dolphins) and cornerback K’Waun Williams (formerly of the Browns).

In 2016, the 49ers added one veteran free agent: Offensive lineman Zane Beadles.

Because both Mitchell and Williams were released by their respective teams, their arrivals won’t count toward the formula that will determine the 2018 compensatory draft picks. (Beadles had been released a year ago, too; the 49ers ended up with an extra fourth-round pick in 2017 due to the departure of guard Alex Boone.)

With $38.7 million in cap space carried over from 2016, the 49ers will have plenty more money to spend as they try to improve on a 2-14 debacle of a year ago. But spending money on newcomers is just one piece of a team-building puzzle that for most successful franchises continues to be based on drafting and developing their own young players.

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Jets decline Erin Henderson’s option

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 19:  Linebacker Erin Henderson #58 of the New York Jets walks off the field after being injured during the game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on August 19, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. The Redskins defeated the Jets 22-18.  (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets made headlines by releasing center Nick Mangold on Saturday, but that wasn’t only decision they made regarding a veteran’s future with the franchise.

According to multiple reports, the Jets have decided not to pick up the option on linebacker Erin Henderson’s contract for the 2017 season. That will make Henderson an unrestricted free agent next month.

Henderson only played in five games last season before being placed on the non-football injury list for reasons that weren’t publicly disclosed. He played all 16 games for the team in 2015 and spent six years with the Vikings before missing the entire 2014 season following his release in the wake of a DUI arrest.

The move creates $2.57 in salary cap space for the Jets, who have been in cost-control mode of late with the departures of Henderson, Mangold, Breno Giacomini, Ryan Clady and Nick Folk.

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Sunday morning one-liners

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 1:  Vincent Rey #57 of the Cincinnati Bengals tackles Kyle Juszczyk #44 of the Baltimore Ravens during the second quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on January 1, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) Getty Images

Will S Robert Blanton be back with the Bills?

A couple of guards that could interest the Dolphins in the draft.

Any NFL prospect with a lacrosse background is going to hear about Patriots WR Chris Hogan.

C Nick Mangold’s time with the Jets has come to an end.

Ravens FB Kyle Juszczyk is headed for free agency.

CB Dre Kirkpatrick may be leaving the Bengals next month.

Browns DT Danny Shelton would love to see more defensive linemen arrive in the draft.

Pass rushing remains an area the Steelers would like to improve.

A review of the Texans wide receivers.

One player can’t fix the Colts, but nailing their first-round pick would still help.

Will the Jaguars consider a running back in the first round?

Assessing the need for a new backup for Titans QB Marcus Mariota.

Setting the stage for the Broncos ahead of the combine.

Running through some mock draft predictions for the Chiefs.

Raiders G Kelechi Osemele is having an adventurous offseason.

Which needs will the Chargers address in the draft?

Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson celebrated the 25th anniversary of a Cowboys Super Bowl title together.

Alabama TE O.J. Howard pops up on a list of draft prospects for the Giants to ponder.

A look at what the Eagles may do at safety this offseason.

Linebackers for the Redskins to watch at the combine.

Bears RB Jordan Howard donated $10,000 to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation in honor of his late father.

The Lions have cap space to make moves in free agency.

The Packers got a fifth-round compensatory pick after losing CB Casey Hayward in free agency last year.

The oversight board for the Vikings stadium is at full strength after new additions.

Extensions will keep a couple of potential Falcons free agents off the market.

Darrel Young could be the Panthers’ fullback in 2017.

Will the Saints pay up for a pass rusher in free agency?

The Buccaneers need to find some new playmakers.

A special teams primer for the Cardinals.

The Rams may not have a first-round pick, but they still have plenty to do at the combine.

Free agency hasn’t opened, but the 49ers have already been busier than they were in last year’s session.

Offensive line isn’t the only area the Seahawks need to address this offseason.

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